Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mabul Trip

16 Dec 2003
At the moment
Song: We Are The World
Mood: Write-y
What I had last: Dinner
My brain is saying: Okay, I finally wrote this whole entire blog down.
Time: 00:57
Wishlist: Olympus M[mju:]400 Digital Camera or Kodak Easy Share. I really really really need this current one worked like Stone Age and if anyone have RM1k+ to spare...

Hey! So. I’m back from the Mabul-Sipadan Island trip with BRATs of The Star. And it’s been one hell of 5 days out there in the wild. I was thinking, maybe I’ll do a play-by-play, since I’m in the mood to type type type away. But it may bore. But heck, how many people get to go out to such places anyway? Me, I was one of those lucky, selected ones. And darn, I have one right to blab about it to my heart’s content. Anyways, here’s the breakdown:

Day 1
Arrived at Buddy’s Place in Tmn Desa, a bungalow owned by Aunty Judy, and some sort of a teen hangout. Met a lot of new senior BRATs there, as well as those from Melacca and Penang workshops. There’s Hanna, huiyoh, this is one power girl. She’s left me an undeletable impression, talking like a bullet and sarcasm shooting here and there. Traumatizing, you know! Heh. Anyways. She’s way fun, smart, witty and hilarious. Kit Sze (Kizzy hereafter) was there as well, Miu Kee (Miuks) and a few people. When the party is almost complete, we had catered dinner and then a briefing by Ju-Eng, Star Metro Editor. She introduced D’Jungle People to us, especially John, who’ll be our “torturer” for the next 5 days. We were divided into 4 groups already, and my group’s name is an inverted Mabul, LUBAM. It’s kinda lame, by I grew fond of it anyway. People were like, “what? No bum!?” My group leader/senior is the famous Jackson Teo. There was other groups with names like Power Puffer Fish (later they became simply - Pish) and Sotong Balls. Lights out by 11pm but we didn’t sleep much anyway. 12 girls in a room, imagine.

Day 2
This day started at 3 am for us. By the time we were ready it was already 4.30 am. Boarded bus and arrived at KLIA around 5.30 am. Checked in and supposed to be at Gate 11 by …I don’t know. The plane takes off at 7.15 am so we were awfully late and Ju-Eng was awfully angry and we were all rushing and running from one end of the terminal to the next. (Gate 11! The last in the entire humongous building! KLIA should consider investing in buggy cars!) It was to be a long day. A very long, long day. I was stuck beside Delwyn Lee (Del). Okay la, I was quite pleased about it. We clicked and can talk non-stop, y’know. At least it wasn’t some stranger. At least it wasn’t some silent, no-sense-of-humor stranger. The plane landed in Kota Kinabalu International Airport after 2.5 hours. We had the opportunity to interview our next flight’s pilots and cabin crew. After 2 hours delay we manage to board our flight to Tawau, which took around 45 minutes. After that we claimed our baggage and took vans to Semporna, around 1 hour ride. And then speedboat to Mabul Island, 45 minutes. Get it? Need a word map?

KL --> KK (2.5 hrs/by air)
KK --> Tawau (45 mins/by air)
Tawau --> Semporna (1 hr/by road)
Semporna --> Mabul (45 mins/by sea)

By the time we arrive in Mabul, it was already nearly 5 pm and everyone was EXHAUSTED. But it was worth it. Mabul at first glimpse was a lil disappointing. I expected this one island with no residents and a small resort but there’s a huge village one one half of the island. There were supposed to be navy escort but since our flight were delayed, they left. No harm done, though. The resort itself is basic and clean and lovely. The restaurant (where we will take over for the next few days of) was open-air and we walk there barefooted. All meals were served buffet style. We had a chance to get dirty because Mr. Lawrence was at the other end of the island (it takes only 10 minutes to walk across the island) constructing some reefballs and we helped him a little. Sun sets really early in Mabul. By 6 pm, the skies are already dark. We had dinner after that and then a slide show and introduction by Mr Lawrence, and Pam. Pam is a marine biologist and a model and she’s a really capable and knowledgeable lady. She explained about reef reproduction and how they all compete and on the last night Jeanette actually mimicked her, "The seas was cloudy! It was a sexplotion!". And we hit the sack.

Day 3
We were late on day 3. Because my roommates, Vysia and Jezamine and me, we 3 slept through all the alarm clocks. But we made it to breakfast and we had an icebreaking/fact finding game called Mabulpoly. Yeah, it’s a adapted version of Monopoly and THIS version is a lot more wicked. For one, we had ??? which is for questions about Mabul and skull for punishments. My group is a glutton for punishments. Some of the more memorable ones include Bum-writing. We had to write BRATs in Mabul on the sand with our BUMS. There was the typical water-balloon shooting squat, menned but strong Suluk resort staff. One of the ??? questions gave me a lot to think about. It’s:

Q: What is the biggest population in the Suluk village?
A: Fleas/Ticks/Kutu. No joke.

After a few hours, we cleaned ourselves, had lunch and SNORKELED, bay-beh! Mabul is famous for muck-diving. It meant that the creatures in Mabul is smaller and we get to see things like corals, jellyfishes, batfishes, Nemo’s cousins – clownfishes, starfishes, ikan bilis and squids. It wasn’t a long trip, we snorkeled about an hour or so and head back to the resort on speedboat. We cleaned up and visited the Suluk village across the fence. I didn’t get to see too much because I was busy interviewing the committee members of the village. But there were loads of children and men around. Womenfolk stayed home. They gave us a welcome dance and waited for us. It was kinda freaky for me, cos you never know if they’re…safe, but then, navy presence were felt. 2 personnel were standing near the graveyard, and I think they’ll take every measures should any riot break out. Luckily, there were none. Anyway, the bare facts of the village (according to my memory, that is, I’m too lazy to look for my notepad) is that:

1. The residents were Filipino Suluk runaways. Most of them do not own Malaysian citizenships.
2. They’re all fishermen and rarely eat anything other than fishes they caught, mainly tuna.
3. There’s no medical facilities on the island; they’ll need to send the sick and women in labor to Semporna by boat.
4. They are Muslims.
5. The other end of the village are made up of Bajau people.
6. There’s over 1500 residents on the island.
7. They actually honored us by clothing themselves during our visit. Usually, the children run naked.
8. They do have generated electricity and underground water. They dug wells as deep as 9 meters.

Makes me think a little.

The day ended with a little more briefing and dinner and beach combing after sunset. Pam was with us and she helped explain the nightlife on the island, and believe me, there were plenty. We had to beware of sea snakes and what-nots. Saw crabs and hermit crabs and the full moon framed by coconut trees…God, you have to be there to appreciate the beauty and the serenity. It was sad and melancholic and peaceful and serene and you’re just there thinking you’re only one out there as God’s creation, you know. We discovered a quartered piece of stingray and boy, does it stink! I actually touched it and it was so fishy. Washed my hands with sand and seawater. There was a funny incidence where Logee panicked a little cos 2 men were following us and asked us to rush, but the men speak up, “Jangan takut! Kita polis!”(Don’t be afraid. We’re police!). Thus the day ended.

Day 4
We woke up late, again. Man, my roommates and I, we were bad combination. Non of us are early risers. This time we had 15 minutes for breakfast before heading to the reefball construction site and it was drizzling all day. It’s a really miserable day. The reefball is interesting. 2 groups went to collect broken coral fingers and the other 2 collected coral boulders to help make the reefball as “natural” as possible. What we are doing with the reefball is that we’re really helping nature jumpstart it’s process by providing rough textured surface for coral “roots” to adhere themselves to (Corals are really live creatures. They eat). It was a layercake kind of reef ball, sorta like dome-shaped, and made layer by layer. See last Sunday’s papers or the photos I’ll post up later for reference. After 3 hours or so, the balls were completed and while we wait for it to dry, (and yes, it was STILL drizzling) we went to this coral propagation project thing, where we plug live coral fingers to cement and divers will plug those corals into the reefballs. We learn that corals are really territorial creature. No 2 different corals can touch each other: they’ll release toxins to kill each other. I slacked off a little and went instead to the end of the kilometer-long jetty and sorta sat there and stared into the ocean. Mr Robert Lo, owner of the Sipadan-Mabul Resort was there, and he explained about the creatures in the sea. Even though it was raining, the water’s still clear up to 20 ft below. It’s such magnificence…you can really see the corals and the stones and the fishes down there. Like Finding Nemo, only less Pixar colors and more natural and…wow. We saw schools of Rumahan fishes beyond. There were churning the surface water so it look like a mini-tornado on the sea surface. There was batfishes, and ikan bilis and red fishes, and starfishes and an odd squid…this is the most beautiful part of my trip. Just staring down there and looking at the rich varieties and …I don’t know, such rich reef life and why would anyone kill them all in the name of development.

Finally the rain came in torrents and we’re forced to head back to the resort. We were already exposed to the rain for nearly 5 hours. Frigging cold and wet. We all had hot showers and hot lunch and surprised to find it was only 1 pm. We had a little off time in the afternoon for our projects and assignments. And THEN, everybody started going a little off-color. First it was an odd fever and someone puking. By 4 pm, 7 or 8 were down puking. By dinnertime, some recovered enough to join us and I felt a little ill myself but said nothing cos Ju-Eng was in fury over this whole thing. I didn’t want to create a scene and make her think I’m also one of the over-imaginative wimps. But I couldn’t stand it. After puking in the restaurant toilet, I ran off to my room and Vysia’s already there (sore throat) and I changed into sleeping clothes and basically stayed up and puked. The Doc (who’s with us for the whole entire trip) was in my room 3 times and I lost count of how many times I was in the toilet. But it was more than 10 times. But D’Jungle People were really nice to us the entire night. I remember John being all concerned and Uncle Tim telling me to get some rest and Doc telling me she’ll send me to Semporna if I get worst, and believe me, no way I’m going off to Semporna! I still have 2 more days of this trip to get through! But it was a tough night. There was nothing to puke. But it still came. My jaw hurts. My stomach hurls. And it bloody sucks. But I survived, heh.

Day 5
Okay, I quit puking, but I can’t stomach food. So I had a cup of tea and nothing for breakfast. I’m such a tea person. We went to Sipadan Island! From Mabul, Sipadan is just a itty speck in the horizon. The speedboat took 20 minutes to reach Sipadan. And I can’t snorkel! Too sick and weak. What a pity. So the sickos (what a sick name given to the sick people) walked around the island. It was a 40-minute walk but the sun was beating down and believe me, in the end I was almost jogging and sighed with relieve when I see red life jacketed-snorkelers out there in the sea. It meant we’re nearing where we started. We saw a turtle sanctuary and Sipadan is a small island and besides the beaches, it was just jungles throughout. Small resorts dotted one side of the island. And Sipadan sits on this finger in the sea where it dropped off suddenly off the beach. The waters were clear and you can see clearly where the turquoise color give way to dark blue. About 60 ft depth. And Del told me he saw hundreds of tuna fishes swimming beneath him at the deeper waters. And a lot of the luckier ones saw turtles and triggerfishes. Damn! No fair. I lost such an opportunity. I’m still cursing myself over this lost snorkeling trip of my lifetime. Dammit. We ended up snoozing at the beach chairs. After that we headed back to Mabul and kinda took it easy the whole afternoon.

My group chilled in the lounge and finished up our project and they went fish shopping at the Suluk village and bought home stuff for the night’s BBQ. I only ate a little of the satay and pineapple fried rice. I felt like hurling again but kept it in. There was a 10th anniversary photo session behind the island where we hold cup cakes with candles and the light is just light enough to see our faces and dark enough to see the candles. I’m looking forward to seeing this pic on the papers. We formed the number 10 as well.

There was a presentation of our projects and there was sketches. And there were other guests - divers living in the resort as well. Hanna made a GOOD fish. Then there was a BRATs Award, and I won 'The smiling BRAT when awake' Award. Alvin won Drama Queen and didn't he fuss about it? Other memorable ones include Beanpole BRAT (Miu Kee); Green-faced, Wobbly-legged, Pukey BRAT (Yee Hui) and Buaya BRAT (Vysia). Pity no sexy legs BRAT. John will win, hands down. Del and Kizzy won BRAT couple, though. That'll shut Del up. He can't quit calling me a hypocrite for winning the smiley BRAT cos I wasn't, but hey, they bestow the award on me. Whatever, man!

Since this is our last night on the island, a few crazy us decided to stay up to watch sunrise. Miuks, Kizzy, me, Kelene, Aidid, Del (quitted on us and went to sleep!), and Ee Koon, a staff member.

We had a long gossiping session that lasted hours. And boy, gossips DO zap, zzzt, zing FAST in the journalist line…I didn’t know people knew THAT much about things. And the thing is, it’s enjoyable because we’re maybe not ever gonna meet some of these people anymore and gossips of them liven things up and believe me, there are quite a few un-likeable people around.

Unfortunately, we didn’t bother to find out where the sun rises and then to our flat disappointment, it rises on the other side of the island. Nobody dared to defy Ju-Eng’s orders and head there. We were chased to our rooms by Shen and I got around 90 minutes of sleep. It was already 5.15 am and the horizon was a light blue and we were chased off. When dawn was breaking. What a pity.

Day 6
This is like the day we go home and we had a closing session where we made a gigantic cloth expressing our most memorable event and speaking out about it and sang Vitamin C’s Friend Forever and had signing sessions. And that was the end.

We went back to our rooms to pack and lug our luggages to the restaurant and left the island on speedboats. It was a solemn affair for me. I missed the island the moment I left it. It was beautiful out there. The whole entire trip was worth all the pain, cost and …in some ways maybe it disappoints, but the beauty of the seas and Mabul, that I will never forget.

We took an evening flight out of Tawau and had a short stopover at Kota Kinabalu. Even the slight drizzle suits the somber mood. We were all tired and subdued. But hey! We had a good looking steward on board. His name is Kelvin. Hahahah. Took ERL to KL Sentral. Costs RM 35. Bloody expensive.

That’s it. The trip.

Anyways, here’s a few fragmented things:
--Thanks, Kizzy, Del, Miuks, Hanna, Jeanette, and all the BRATs whom I befriended and became close to and made this trip a fun one.
--Sorry, Ee Koon, for making you stay up for the sunrise we never saw.
--Domestic lines suck! There was “no” playing cards, blankets, pillows or extra meals on board. And the steward kept on reminding us we can have McDs and KFC when we reach home!
--D’Jungle People –John, Paul, Shen, Uncle Tim (Delwyn's the one starting that label!!!), you guys rock! Thank you, thank you and THANK YOU for your torture, your concern, your energy, your guidance and your care for us there. I hope I can meet with you guys again!
--The Star staff, esp. those who was also at the Lumut workshop…it was great seeing you all again!
--5 days sans technology was okay. There was no phones, no lines, no radio, no tv there. In fact the city hustle and bustle seemed a little bit more bothersome once I got back to KL.

And a few irrelevant things:
--I made it to the RealUK Competition finals.’s the tough part. Next round is a 5-minute video presentation. Uh. Oh. Kelene made it too!
--I’m NOT in National Service! Woo hoo!
--I’m going to LOTR Premiere on Thursday!

That’s all the update for me today. Ta!

Delwyn Lee made this comment,
Woman!!! I am back!!!
My heart was beating when I saw this entry. I was worried u might reveal too much abt the trip and me...heng sia....
Wateva happen to the supposed...nvm

You're welcome anyway... we really clicked huh...too bad u didnt get NS...imagine what those work could do to your body

Did i tell u i saw many more clownfishes at sipadan n many more other fishes. Shiok sia...

Gonna miss hentaming u lar

Michelle made this comment,
Wey woman, so mcuh fun!!! I want!! Hmmmpppphhhhh!!!! I want to go!!!!!!!!! Hmpphhhh!! I know what you're thinking : "Golah.. who's stopping you?" Right?!! Hmpph..anyways, glad u had so much fun, now you have to fill me in! And show me the pictures!!
Visit me @

A visitor made this comment,
* Sobs * Waaahhhhhh...I wanna go to.Do you mind taking me with you on the next trip? Pleaseeeeee...??????
Mrs Shinoda( Michelle ) [

A visitor made this comment,
UNCLE TIM??? *laughs* Burst out laughing! That's my brother, you're talking about, Pui Yee...and John & Paul are his bro-in-laws! *laughs* *rofl*
I'm glad you had a good time as well! :) *chuckles* Uncle Tim...*hahaha*

ichimei []

A visitor made this comment,
yo woman! thank you for the kind description of me [ least, i THINK it was kind. now i'm not so sure. traumatizing!]..i'll be back to visit your blog often darling...and i'll be linking you as well...mwah mwah! miss u guys.
hanna []

A visitor made this comment,
ur one of the first to blog bout mabul.
hats off to u. haven't read it though
i was too bz warming the bed n gettin rid of my bags under my eyes!
but ive FINALLY done it. i've blogged about it.
cept wil only leme put 5 pics a day up. arg. i gota sign up for ur angelfire thing.

No comments: